The Fox 34 Float 29 features burly 34mm Kashima-coated stanchions and 140mm (5.5in) of travel, which can be reduced internally using the supplied spacers. It's the genre-spanning fork that many 29er riders have been waiting for.
Most 29er-specific forks suffer from flex, be it forward and backward or torsionally, when loaded through turns.This doesn’t affect the cross-country rippers too much, but the new breed of all-mountain 29ers need something brawnier than the 32mm stanchions we’ve become accustomed to.
The Fox's tapered steerer tube and noticeably bigger 34mm stanchions make for an instantly stiffer package. The forward and backward flex seen on 32mm stachioned forks is almost gone – grab the front brake and there’s no nervous flex, just plenty of predictable control.
Internally there’s a FIT damper with adjustable rebound, low-speed compression and lockout with a separate threshold dial. As with most Fox forks, a few rides are needed to bed it in and find your damping sweet spot, but before long it becomes responsive over smaller bumps and works excellently on the bigger hits.
Compared to the linear feel of the RockShox Revelation 29er, the 34 feels more like a downhill fork. Compared to the seemingly more supple Rev, the 34 doesn’t feel quite as active over smaller bumps, yet we’d say it’s more of a case of simply not noticing the 34 in action, because it stealthily supplies just as much grip and more support than its counterpart over the same terrain and just lets you get on with the job at hand.
Push the 34 hard and the damping comes into a class of its own. There’s still the sensation of a firmer ride, but you simply don’t feel the shocks through the bars. The low-speed compression holds the fork up for great support in turns, which is essential with the steeper head angles that 29ers typically have, and you can feel the trail through the bars, just without the shocks. The linear feel of other forks can isolate you from smaller bumps and although giving a feeling of grip can mislead you.
Our Float weighed 1.84kg (4.05lb) uncut, which is a smidge heavier than its closest competitor, the Revelation, but on the trail, this really didn’t matter. Bolting a 34 on the front of your 29er turns your bike in to a freight train and you’ll be hitting stuff like you should have a cow catcher strapped to the front. Whatever the trail throws at you is eaten up and delivered to your hands as a mild ripple.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.